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Solar System Exploration
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Mission Design
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System
Mission: MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: Mission Design is intended to provide an overarching framework for discussing exploration in general. The module places space exploration in the greater context of the history of human exploration, and allows the students to investigate how scientists and engineers today plan missions to study worlds in the solar system and extend their exploration even farther in the Universe.

Morning Star and Evening Star
Topic: Discovering New Worlds
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Venus
Mission: Akatsuki (Venus), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: Students participate in a kinesthetic model that demonstrates that Venus is visible in the evening and morning sky.

Observing Where the Sun Sets
Topic: Ancient Astronomers / Modern Tools, The Sun, Transits and Eclipses
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Sun
Mission: Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: This activity is for students to do at home. When they complete it, they will have created a horizon sun calendar much like ones that were used in many Native American tribes.

On the Moon
Topic: Far Ranging Robots
Grade Level: K-4, 5-8, 9-12
Body: Earth's Moon
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon)

Short Description: This guide has six activities that bring engineering and NASA's moon missions to life. Some are applicable for elementary-aged students, and one is for high school students, but most are targeted for middle school students.

Paper Plate Education: Transit Frequency
Topic: The Sun, Transits and Eclipses
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Sun, Venus
Mission: Heliophysics (Sun), Venus Express (Venus)

Short Description: This activity by Paper Plate Education models why Venus' transits come in pairs that are eight years apart, followed alternately by spans of 121.5 years and 105.5 years.

Plasma Wars
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Genesis (Our Solar System)

Short Description: Students use iron powder to model the solar wind, moving under pressure created by a pipette, encountering and interacting with an enclosed magnetic field. The student text introduces the idea of planetary diversity not only in the shape, size, and strength of the planetary magnetospheres, but also in the types and sources of the high-energy charged particles that occupy them.

Reading, Writing and Rings
Topic: Investigating Our Planetary Family Tree
Grade Level: K-4
Body: Saturn
Mission: Cassini (Saturn)

Short Description: These activities blend the excitement of space exploration with reading and writing. Activities are available for Grades 1-2 and Grades 3-4.

Space Math: Ice on Mercury?
Topic: Ice in the Solar System
Grade Level: 9-12
Body: Mercury
Mission: MESSENGER (Mercury)

Short Description: Since the 1990's, radio astronomers have mapped Mercury. An outstanding curiosity is that in the polar regions, some craters appear to have "anomalous reflectivity" in the shadowed areas of these craters. One interpretation is that this is caused by sub-surface ice

Space Math: LRO Makes a Temperature Map of the Lunar South Pole
Topic: Ice in the Solar System, Space Math
Grade Level: 5-8
Body: Earth's Moon
Mission: Lunar Recon Orbiter (Earth's Moon)

Short Description: Students use the published LRO temperature map to study the scale of the south polar region, the sizes of its craters and estimate the volume of water-ice that may be present in Shackleton Crater.

Space Weather Action Center
Topic: Magnetospheres: Planetary Shields, The Sun, Transits and Eclipses
Grade Level: 5-8, 9-12
Body: Our Solar System, Sun, Earth
Mission: Earth Science (Earth), Heliophysics (Sun)

Short Description: Imagine being able to monitor the progress of an entire solar storm from the time it erupts from our Sun until it sweeps past our small planet effecting enormous changes in our magnetic field. Now imagine being able to do all of this from your Space Weather Action Center (S.W.A.C.)! By following the basic steps in the Instructional Guide your class will soon be on its way to accessing, analyzing and recording NASA satellite and observatory data.

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Last Updated: 21 Oct 2011